CTL Wins Blackboard Catalyst Award

myCommons - Extended Learning Opportunities
June 26, 2020

College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Center for Teaching and Learning team has been named winners of the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Optimizing Student Experience, which honors those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. This includes their addressing of new and changing dynamics in fields such as student recruitment, financial aid, enrollment, retention and assessment, graduation, and beyond.

Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners are selected by a cross-functional team of Blackboard experts.

As a geographically-separated community college serving a non-residential population, CWI is continuously seeking ways to utilize Blackboard to create community and learning beyond the classroom. During the Fall 2018 semester, Center for Teaching and Learning released myCommons, a collaborative, extended instruction opportunity for students, housed in Blackboard. Providing a centralized location for students to engage in extended learning opportunities independently or as a requirement by their faculty, the goal of myCommons was to grow overall student engagement and increase retention and graduation rates.

myCommons contains twenty badges, representing the expertise of eight departments at the College from the Library to Business and Biology to Counseling. During the first year, myCommons awarded 10,669 badges with 3,342 unique users actively participating in the site. As a central location for students to engage in educational contests and events, utilization and participation has since grown nearly 40%.

“With the complex schedules of both faculty and students, scheduling in-person or synchronous instruction is not always feasible. myCommons has been an invaluable solution in helping us reach our audience for foundational instruction by providing on-demand modules for specific content. This approach has led to deeper conversations during meetings and classtime about content because we can assume base knowledge. Furthermore, at the instruction level, it has created consistency across courses in terms of the expectations instructors can hold students to,” said Heather Schoenherr, Associate Professor of Psychology.

"We’re pleased to honor this year's Blackboard Catalyst Award winners for their commitment to improving the educational experience for all learners through EdTech and sharing these insights with the broader community," said Lee Blakemore, Chief Client Officer and President, Global Markets at Blackboard. "We’re proud to partner with institutions who are innovating to advance student success.”

The Center for Teaching and Learning team will be announced alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld 2020, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held virtually July 21 and 22. 

Blackboard is the leading provider of learner success-focused technology solutions and services. Its product portfolio is unmatched in the marketplace, spanning teaching and learning, analytics, community engagement, and student services.

For more information on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, please visit: https://community.blackboard.com/catalystawards.